Although it was nippy, temperatures were set to rise as cloud was due to come in around lunch time so we hoped to reach the top in good time. The way up from Kirkland is ideal for good progress, apart from the morass of the cow feeding station, and we soon hit the snow line with views opening up to the Lakes and the fine sight of Black Doors providing good interest.
Track out of Kirkland by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Kirkland Beck by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Looking to the Lakes by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Snowy Kirkdale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hughie by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Views opening up by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Black Doors by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hitting the Snowline by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hughie was as usual loving the white stuff (see photographic evidence) as we climbed up out of Ardale and onto the very broad shoulder of the Fell. Although snow never threatened we were treated to some dramatic Pennine skies which thankfully never obscured the views as we picked our way across the slowly thawing landscape till we reached the prominent cairn which marks the Pennine ways journey up to (or down from) it's highest point. Even though we had seen a few people at this point it quickly be came apparent nobody, apart from what looked like a fox from the footprints, had been up Cross Fell today since the overnight snows. We followed Mr Fox as the light changed from one moment to the next on the vast landscape as a bank of cloud skimmed past the summit plateau meaning we would reach the summit in clear conditions. The snow was largely firm and not very deep apart from one thigh deep patch that Grace enjoyed so the going was good all the way to the summit shelter where possibly the most extensive view in England was laid out before us, the first summiteers of the day, in all it's glory.
Mad Dog by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Spring and Winter by Anthony Young, on Flickr
On the way up by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Brown Hill by Anthony Young, on Flickr
First glimpse of the summit plateau. by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Pennine Skies. by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Thaw by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Glorious views by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Threatening Skies by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Contrasts by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Into Darkness by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Icy Details by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Wide open by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Up to the Knees by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Cross Fell by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Hughie and Grace by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Summit Shelter by Anthony Young, on Flickr
What a fine spot for lunch by Anthony Young, on Flickr
The view from Cross Fell on a clear day can't really be captured in a photograph but the sight of the Lakeland mountains across the Vale of Eden to the West continuing on to the tops of the Yorkshire Dales to the South is very special. The plateau cuts out some of the view to the North and East but even here the vast wilderness is awe inspiring and it was a fantastic place to eat lunch out of the gentle breeze and quite warm all things considered.
As we ate a few others made the top breaking the spell but soon enough we had to head off to our descent route. Here a fine view of Cow Green Reservoir and the source of the mighty river Tees is to be had amid a scene of wilderness as we made our way down the now rapidly thawing fellside as a couple was coming up the other way.
'I recognise that dog!' came the cry from the gentleman as we approached, fame at last for Hughie so it seams! The gentleman in question was Walkhighlands poster John923, it was very nice to say hello to a fellow Walkhighlander and have a little chat and quite the surprise. This impromptu meeting over we promptly missed the path and ended up at Crowdundle head. Rather than retrace our steps back up hill we contoured the now thawed and soggy fellside before running into our intended route down.
Looking back to the summit by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Views to Cow Green Reservoir by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Little and Great Dun Fells by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Looking down Greatdale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Giant Golf Ball by Anthony Young, on Flickr
The path gave us good, if slightly squelchy at times, progress down to Wild Boar Scar (obviously used to be trees aplenty round here) and onto Littledale amid the idyllic surrounds of the Pennine foothills. These parts of the Pennines as they descend into the Vale of Eden always wow me with there bucolic beauty, such a contrast with the harsh bleak environment of the summits
Back on the path by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Wild Boar Scar by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Littledale by Anthony Young, on Flickr
One last thing remained for this walk and that was the intriguing name on the map of "The Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony". This is a very grand name that promises much but delivers nothing more, as the map also suggests, than the outline of cultivation terraces from days gone past. Given the Roman connotations of the name and the nearby Roman route of the Maiden Way it all seems scant evidence of something so grand sounding. A little internet research revealed not much to be honest but did turn up this very interesting letter to the Cumberland & Westmoorland Herald.
Sir, In reply to B. H. Dunn’s query regarding the “Hanging Gardens”, or more correctly, the “Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony”, the following may be of interest.
Although shown on the Ordnance Survey map as being located at Kirkland, this would appear to be a mistake on the part of the Ordnance Survey when the first maps were produced during the mid-19th Century. The features at Kirkland are agricultural terraces, possibly built by the Angles after they arrived in the area during the 7th Century.
Although there is little to see now, the real Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony would seem to have been located just outside Culgaith.
The Elizabethan historian and antiquarian, William Camden, who travelled the whole country before publishing Britannia, his 1586 topographical survey of Britain, notes “the strange ruins of an old castle”, close to where the Crowdundle beck runs into the River Eden and referred to by the local population as the “Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony”.
There are still many large foundation stones around the boundaries of a field in an area known as Hanging Bank, adjacent to the Eden and not far from the Crowdundle. There is also a large granite standing stone, possibly some form of boundary marker. The walls may have quite literally been hanging, due to river erosion of the bank upon which they stood.
I would guess that the “ruined castle” was the remains of a medieval tower house, attributed to the Romans, and more specifically, Mark Anthony, following the loss of any folk memory regarding its last occupants.
The manor of Culgaith was divided into two parts during the Middle Ages, probably with two manor houses, with this being one of them. Yours etc,
What Mr Marsh suggests really dose sound quite plausible. It would be interesting to know just what the few posters who hail from around these parts think of it with their local knowledge.
We finished off with a gentle stroll back to the car to end a very fine outing indeed while noting the stark contrast with the amount of snow in Kirkdale from when we set off.
Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony? by Anthony Young, on Flickr
Kirkdale nearly snowless by Anthony Young, on Flickr